ST, PETERSBURG — Freda Ward was a prolific and largely unknown writer who enjoyed recording the details of everyday life. She filled 10 books — nine of them self-published — with short essays about anything, including pantyhose, ironing, paper shredders and whiteout.
She died March 25, of heart and lung illnesses. She was 77.
Born and raised in rural Illinois, she leveled a brass-tacks wit at the world, her husband, Hal, and herself.
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"She was very outgoing," said Hal Ward, 79. "Much more so than me."
The couple lived in Annandale, Va., near Washington, D.C. He was an accountant with the General Accounting Office; she volunteered with church and school organizations and raised three sons.
In 1979, she and Hal started a commercial lighting business together. After 20 successful years they moved to St. Petersburg.
Mrs. Ward wasted no time pursuing a dream of writing books.
In 2000, Mrs. Ward published her first book of whimsical musings, Serving Gravy with a Slotted Spoon. One chapter detailed an incident in the car, in which Hal Ward sat down on a tomato.
The more I laughed — silently — the more Hal uttered expletives. Sprinkled amongst his choice words, he kept repeating, "I'll get you for this."
Another chapter recounts Mrs. Ward's unsuccessful attempts to open a jar of pickles. Hal couldn't open the jar either, so he smashed it with a hammer.
"If you took her words seriously, you'd think he was a grouchy old man," said Greg Seeley, a lawyer who met Mrs. Ward in a writing group. "But it's quite obvious to everybody that they love each other very much."
Mrs. Ward became disillusioned with her publisher for the high prices it set and its inability to get her work into bookstores. She began to publish her own books, several of which center on her Methodist faith.
She spoke publicly at least 200 times, using a blend of inspiration and standup comedy. She worked dinners at First United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg as if she were the minister, her husband said.
Mrs. Ward had nearly finished an untitled manuscript about her 8-year-old granddaughter, Jennifer, who has leukemia.
For the first time in 54 years, Hal Ward finds himself without her. He plans to publish her book about Jennifer this year.
"I may even start writing myself," he said.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.